Definitions of creativity are … creative

Creativity, innovation, and leadership have become buzzwords in boardrooms and classrooms across the country. Business leaders and educators alike are embracing the idea that you need ideas to keep pace with the world in which we all live. What works today may not work tomorrow. What may work a decade from now is almost inconceivable given the break-neck pace of change in everything from smartphones to tablets (and I’m not talking about aspirin).

At Post, creativity, innovation, and leadership form the foundation for everything we do, from curriculum development to online learning to customer service and process management. This area of emphasis has often caused me to stop and think about how people view creativity.

When I think about being creative, I always think of finger paints. When my daughters were small, I would set them up with four tubs of paint — red, blue, yellow, and green — and a clean, white piece of paper.

Rather than do as I expected, they would mix the colors into many, made shades and paint their faces, hands, arms, and sometimes even their feet. It was as if they were saying, “Now, why would I use a flat, piece of blank paper to paint on when I could paint on something rich with texture, peaks and valleys, soft and hard surfaces?” When looking to tap into my creative side, my mind inevitably conjures up images of paint-covered hands creating masterpieces on paint-covered faces.

In keeping with this creative theme, we recently asked a few of our thought leaders to share their definitions of creativity and encourage you to add your thoughts to the conversation. Do you have a definition of creativity that differs from what’s here? Do you have a link to a video, presentation, or book on creativity to share? Add your creativity to mix in the comments section below. In the coming months, we will add similar posts on innovation and leadership, so stay tuned.


Jane Bailey, Dean of the Post University School of EducationMy definition of creativity is … the ability to think with a twist and an added touch of joy; to think something or do something unique that takes the world (may be only a world of one) if not by storm, then by pleasant surprise. The author(s) of the Google masthead get my creative vote. Though I’ve never read the word “joy” within a dictionary definition of creativity, joy is a necessary component of my definition. When I see creativity in action, I’m witnessing joyful play. When a team burns the midnight oil to solve a problem and comes up with a creative solution, the joy transcends the problem-solution itself. Rather, the joy is in the creative pulling-together of disparate ideas in some new way. Creativity is not just doing the puzzle. It’s making the puzzle in the first place … but a puzzle that no one else has made or would think of making. Turning the world upside down and inside out. Isn’t that why we’re here at Post University? To turn higher education upside down and inside out … with joy? That’s creativity to me.

Jen Bouchard, Academic Program Manager Post University Master of Education Program:

Don Mroz, Ph.D., Post University Provost: The definition of creativity is fluid. People think about creativity in different ways, so there are many different definitions that work. There’s creative thinking and then there’s being innovative, and some people think of these as interchangeable concepts. Actually, one feeds the other. Innovation can be making something new, something different. We can innovate in a lot of ways, but to be innovative we have to engage in creative thinking. For me, being creative is trying to add the “wow” effect to whatever we do. It’s a means of dazzling people with something unexpected and new. Some people are naturally more creative, but everyone can learn how to be creative. Creativity doesn’t just happen. To open their creative minds, people need to be able to make mistakes and have time to reflect. There also must be an element of fun. Creativity requires an environment that allows for people to have the time and space to think, and brainstorm and try on different thoughts. They can do this by themselves or in a group. The keys are to allow time for the free flow of ideas and the connecting of thoughts, and to create an environment in which these things are possible.

Steve Paulone, Acting Director of the Post University MBA Program: My definition of creativity is probably a bit weird to most. I am a process-type person, so I believe creativity is a process. You begin with what you know and you change it to meet the needs of a particular situation. Just to show my age, I always loved the show “MacGyver.” He would solve problems each week with a belt, rubber bands, and a kazoo (among other items). That is creativity! In the Post University Online MBA Program, we try to bring out the inner MacGyver in all of us to solve business problems using our creativity, the tools of business, and maybe even a kazoo!


  1. In order to define creativity, I think it’s necessary to first analyze the core of the word: create. To create means to build or conceive something original, to surpass what’s been done before – whether it be an idea, process, product, etc. In order to achieve this, I think one must operate in a certain frame of mind. Creation happens when enthusiasm meets willingness to fail – perhaps even the expectation of failure – over and over again, until the desired outcome is reached. The word’s remainder, suffix ‘-ity,’ is used to form abstract nouns expressing a state or condition; thus, creativity is the condition or state of being creative. With all this in mind, my definition of creativity is the ability to welcome and withstand failure(s) with unaltered enthusiasm, in order to bring about something new.

  2. Keyshla Sanchez, Post Marketing Student

    When I envision creativity, I imagine lines coming together to form an image. The manipulation of simple lines twisted and turned to create characters and items that jump out at you have always captivated me since I was a little girl. It was the lines that created a little mickey mouse character that my father drew for me that launched me into a world of art. I was amazed at the simplicity that creativity could be. I've been reading Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson and it has allowed me to see creativity and innovation from the eyes of a visionary. What I've learned so far is that simplicity is the key to beautiful creativity and the magical world of innovation.

    Keyshla Sanchez
    Post Marketing Student

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